09 Dec 2021

There’s so much exciting stuff happening at the Inkwell Awards and I wanted to share it with you all!

It’s been a rough couple of years, for everyone. Fundraising was more vital than ever with the absence of shows for a time and the weak US economy and the regrettable state of high unemployment affecting our donations and how they sold on the auction block. Thankfully, even with some smaller returns from both donation sales and Inking Challenge events we were able to fund our Dave Simons Memorial Scholarship Award (promptly paid this past fall to the Kubert School), so all additional funds are for our trophies, auction fees, shipping, travel and other operational expenses.

We only attended two shows in the transitional 2021 but that was as much to do about my personal work schedule and health keeping me home as the travel amidst the Covid variant-laden environment. But we have, so far, three conventions confirmed for the new year and they are regular stops of ours with The Old School Comics Show on April 23, Garden State Comic Fest July 9-10 and the Terrificon July 29-31, so far.

Brie Danas

Speaking of shows and fundraising, some may have noticed that life hurdles like job schedules have challenged us with having a Ms. Inkwell spokesmodel at all show appearances starting in 2019 but especially during the pandemic. But during the carpool road trip to the Joe Sinnott memorial this past October with former Inkwell member and supporter Joe Goulart, Joe suggested that we talk to Brie Danas as a new addition to the team.

Brie is 26, attending college and she just moved to New Hampshire, so she’s a local New Englander which is within drivable distance of many of our shows. She’s been regularly involved with the comic book/pop-culture convention scene for a decade and has been a cosplayer starting in 2011. This means that she has familiarity with shows, the fans and the creators, having developed relationships with many along the way.

She loves this family community and is very excited to join the Inkwell Family which allows her to help give back to many deserving members. Spokesmodels are on the front lines in artists alley, acting as liaisons and the face of the non-profit and largely involved with it’s fundraising more than anyone else, whether collecting generous donations from creators or selling merchandise from our booth space (but also ready & eager to take pics with fans).

She is passionate about helping to recognize the exceptional work of current inkers (along with their pencil partners unless they ink their own pencils) and veteran artists for their lifetime of career achievement, and helping make students’ dreams come true with entering the comic book field through scholarship aid. Brie’s academic and work schedule has the kind of flexibility allowing her to attend many con events.

After the holidays we’ll have her first photoshoot pics and, working besides Bob and the vet spokesmodels Hailey Skaza-Gagne and/or Kathy Denise Taylor, she will be training at her first shows in 2022.

And still on fundraising, I wanted to praise my auction team of auctioneer Ray Burke from my core committee and curator Michael J. Prast, my senior contributor who handles all donations, scanning and packing & shipping. I used to choose items from my donation inventory tracking chart and type up descriptions for the listings (I would set starting bids or refer to committee member Erick Korpi for original art items).

During our short run of auctions this past fall (after a way too long break from them), not only were we synching as a team but Ray has also recently typed up new descriptions due to my insane schedule. So when our fundraising auctions resume in mid to late-January we will continue that mostly biweekly schedule on an ongoing basis with occasional small breaks so we can offer up a lot of donations from the last few years. And the new shows later in the year will allow us to bring in newer art items.

This seems to be the most-efficient plan and it’s hard to believe that most of this work used to be handled for years by a single person like Michael Kellar or Bob Shaw before him, burning them out. I can tell the newbies stories of incredible feats by these seemingly fictional and larger than life auctioneers, the Inkwell Legends!

Since the beginning, our Inkwell website has been maintained by Tim Aslat and financed by Daniel Best, both based in Australia and both among our longest-lasting senior contributors. We have made efforts a few times over the years and now through our senior contributor & webmaster Steven Freivogel to break away and be self-sufficient in this area. We currently have had one problem or another blocking the venture. But right now things are closer than ever to finally reaching that goal.

Mike Deodato, Jr. (photo: Niccolò Caranti)

Our next Sinnott Inking Challenge event shines the Spotlight on…Mike Deodato, Jr.! Celebrating the 80th anniversary since her debut appearances, Wonder Woman will be the rendered iconic character by Mike, a character who he had a memorable series stint early on in his career. In fact, MIke was so excited to be invited to participate and support us that he immediately drew up the exclusive image! Thanks to the efforts of Erick Korpi, Joe Prado and Mike Pascale several pro ink artists were contacted, invitation only (and with DC Comics oversight), to the traditional limit of 24 boards, signed & numbered with COAs, of blueline original inked art to be auctioned off in the late spring.

Some of you may have noticed our host-show dilemma recently. The dilemma is that we currently don’t really have a host-show. As many of you know, Heroes Con in Charlotte, NC acted as our first host-show from 2011 until 2018 when we informed promoter Shelton Drum that we would be changing venues because another show was willing to cover most of the travel expenses that we were currently paying and it was a lot closer to home…a difference of 14-16 road trip hours versus about 6!

We had a good ceremony in 2019 that weekend, albeit filled with more bad luck than even Murphy’s Law could understand, but following the pandemic the show hadn’t communicated with us and it didn’t have plans for producing any new shows for the foreseeable future. So for the last two years we have handled all results announcements online in press articles.

This has given us more flexibility and with me and my assistant director Mike Pascale being super busy with work assignments we’re slightly behind the 2021 operations schedule so that flexibility is much-appreciated. However, for the future, for after 2022, we’d be open for discussions if convention promoters want to discuss hosting us, whether as a one-shot ceremony on rotation or as a short or long term arrangement. They can contact me anytime at dmralmond@gmail.com

Since the beginning, after I created the Stacey Aragon Special Recognition Award or SASRA, (originally just SRA), there’s often been confusion about “who is Stacey?” and even what it is, including the award recipients. It’s our second most-prestigious lifetime achievement award after the Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame, but it comes with more of an explanation and allows some notable creators attention for their work, some of whom might not be eligible to win the Sinnott one. To make Stacey, the award and it’s terms clear from here on in “Mighty” Mike Pascale and Stacey’s widower Dave “Ragz” Hanson assisted me in adding an informative, new SASRA page to the website. Thanks, gents!
Speaking of which, we’re about ready to prepare the nomination committees for the internally-nominated lifetime achievement awards candidates and the separate nomination committee for the ballot categories next. I’m really and honestly thrilled about our progress and achievements of late as we enter our 14th(!) year at this! Our Inkwell Family is filled with many dedicated individuals, some from the beginning with me, who have selflessly put in their invaluable time to make this fledgling organization into a long term reality in spite of all of the original criticism and doubt. We still make mistakes but we’ve learned a lot and we’re heading surely FORWARD & UPWARD! BRING IT ON 2022!
Bob

 

14 May 2021

Howdy Inkwellers! This is my first blog entry since June 29, 2017 and the last time I focused on a membership rollcall and previously titled “The Old Order Changeth” (sorry, I’m an unapologetic, lifelong Avengers fan) was August 31, 2013! So why am I taking a moment to blog an article after all this time in lieu of an insane schedule as we wrap up yet another season? Because our core committee roster, the braintrust of this non-profit, recently witnessed a roster change after the longest and glorious run of a consistent committee line-up. It used to be that, like all volunteers, people put in their time until they don’t have the time or they burn out. Comic book creators especially don’t stay long due to nutty work schedules and obligations. Some of those creators include Tim Townsend, Dave Simons and Nathan Massengill (who actually put in over two years!). Usually there are folks who come and go with rotating, overlapping rosters. Back in the day the passion got fierce as some personalities conflicted and I was the guy that played diplomat to attempt to keep the peace and not always succeeding. So while there were some individuals that had long stays like Daniel Best (3 years), Mike Kellar (4) and Jim Tournas (5 1/2), overall teams never stayed constant for long.

Besides myself, in 2013 two members were promoted to core committee status, Mike Pascale and Erick Korpi. Like Mike Kellar before him, Mike Pascale in short order became an assistant director after Kellar resigned (“The Mighty Mikes”). The current Mike has been on the core team now for over eight years! In that time he has been essential in streamlining operations, handling and upgrading most press releases, announcements and documents with me, often making me sound much better than I am (trust me, he’s good!), redesigning graphics used, been our most-prolific chronicler for bios and Sinnott Hall of Fame articles, acted as a back-up auctioneer in a pinch and even establishing the submissions program to our ballot voting system three years ago among his many accomplishments while holding this position.

Erick Korpi was on the team almost two years when he resigned for personal reasons but he returned just over two years later and has been on the team 3 years and 5 months since 2017. Again for personal reasons, this time related to business and health, Erick had to take an indefinite hiatus as of October of 2020. He is the only core committee volunteer to put in two terms and I have no doubt once he can straighten out some hurdles in his life that he’ll be back again for term #3. At one awards ceremony I even asked multimedia contributor Ray Burke to tease about this and present a mock “Inkwell Masochist Award” being offered to Erick during his slideshow. And even since he left he has continued to be invaluable as a consultant regarding original art value, lifetime achievement nominations and especially developments for our Inking Challenges. Among his many contributions, Erick has been the mastermind behind our most profitable Inking Challenge Spotlight events, successfully recruiting superstars like Jim Lee, David Finch and Ivan Reis and overseeing the programs with me, raising tens of thousands in fundraising, second only to our senior spokesmodel Hailey Skaza-Gagne.

And lastly, we have our second Aussie (after Dan Best) Rhys Evans who we recruited with an ad on social media to reach out for committee volunteers. Out of the three members who joined, Rhys was the only long-term “survivor”, having been on the team as our key auctioneer for just over five years. While the duties of an auctioneer was eventually split among 3-5 contributors from originally being just one person overseen by me due to the intense and time-consuming schedule that burned out members like Bob Shaw, Nathan Massengill and especially Mike Kellar, Rhys has gone many months with on average bi-weekly auction waves. Only recently in December of 2020 did he ask for a leave or sabbatical until the following summer due to family needs in the face of pandemic challenges.

These are the big three that held things together with me the longest with incredibly strong contributions to the organization with minimal issues. So while 2021 brings in new players to fill in the needs of our operations, I hope to see Erick and Rhys return to me and Mike Pascale while retaining our new members such as:

Ray Burke, who had been a senior contributor for nine years nine months until coming aboard December of 2020. A longtime Inkwell veteran, he brings with him the ability to run auctions and still carry on his duties as tech-guru, a chronicler and the awards ceremony multimedia contributor.

Joe Prado, who had been recruited as a senior ambassador, also in December 2020, to oversee the popular Brazillian School of comic book artists. Following the success of Mike Deodato Jr. in the 1990s, the region has developed generations of fast and reliable, mainstream talent that has been influential to a degree not seen since the older Filipino School of artists that developed in the 1970s for publishers Marvel, DC, Warren, etc. that is still active going on five decades. In this capacity, Joe assists with overseeing fundraising from donations and Inking Challenges. But he is the first Inkwell member to be active as both a special ambassador and, as of April 2021, a core committee member, a groundbreaking feat! While most professional artists only stay short-term, Joe is showing how things are done taking on two crucial, simultaneous positions while also maintaining his work schedule as a high-demand artist.

These are exciting times for us. I can only imagine the contributions to come from these two “lifers” and if our away team returns then there’s nothing this dream team can’t accomplish, along with the rest of our extended family of invaluable contributors, ambassadors, volunteers, associates and supporters. Let’s face it, I’m not the easiest guy to work with and yet all of the above talents have something in common: Bob stamina. And whenever I look good it’s only because they are GREAT. Our second decade shows us the best is yet to come. Forward & Upward!

29 Jun 2017

Anyone who has received or bought our annually, published books knows that I have always included a chronological list of the dearly departed from our community that had past away in the ending Inkwell season (June-June) on the book’s credits pages.  This started with the Inkwell Awards Donation & Results books and then continued with the Sinnott Inking Challenge books.  However, as has been announced, we skipped this year with producing the next Inking Challenge collection, which would’ve been our 6th edition. For that reason, I will post here that list. I never know if these lists are complete as I record what I see and read on social media and that’s not the most-thorough way to handle this.  So please feel free to add any I missed in the comments section.  All subsequent deaths will be mentioned in the 2018 book. The Inkwell Awards offer their sincere condolences to the family and loved ones of the recently departed and may they all rest in peace. ~B

  • Alan Mitchell
  • Jack Davis
  • Gaspar Saladino
  • Bob Weinberg
  • Gary Reed
  • Steve Dillon
  • Cory Adams
  • Miguel Ferrer
  • John Watkiss
  • Dan Spiegle
  • John Calnan
  • Jay Lynch
  • Skip Williamson
  • Dave Hunt
  • Bernie Wrightson
  • Oliver Nome
  • Edmund Bagwell
  • Rich Buckler
  • Stacey Aragon
  • Albert Deschesne
  • Mike Chary
  • James Galton
  • Tommy Castillo
19 Nov 2016

DC_Logo_RGB_031816tumblr_mutqi9ard71sr6q3eo1_500

As the mission statement on the banner masthead above says “To Promote and Educate About the Art of Comic Book Inking”. It’s basically what we do and have done now for going on nine years.

We at the Inkwell Awards never shine a poor, public light on any publishers regarding a lack of inker credits and recognition, preferring to keep it all positive and speak in generalities. I and some organization members also work for Marvel & DC and one has to be sure to not go over the line when it comes to a professional, freelance relationship and promoting one’s non-profit mission on the promotion of inking.  But having said all that, I also believe that a publisher should be given kudos when doing a job well-done, from our perspective at least. This article will be somewhat of a high wire act;-)

Between 2000 and 2007 I had some areas of concern about changes regarding inking/inkers from publishers that had to do with inker credits being removed from solicitations, removed from trade or HC collection covers, and not being included under swatches of sample art in handbooks, magazines, special projects, etc.  (There are other areas like the Eisner Awards suddenly removing their voting category for Best Inker after several years of activity, editors skipping the production step of inking in comic books by using Photoshop manipulation of the pencils with cleaning & darkening, and other stuff, all not really applicable to this article.)

From everything I’d been aware of DC Comics had/has kept all traditional credits for inkers in place. Thanks to former committee member Erick Korpi, who had been attending the monthly DC meetings in Manhattan as a guest: he opened up a dialogue with us and the likes of executives Jim Lee, Dan Didio and Mark Chiarello and prompted us to send them Inkwell gift bags (brochure, Joe Sinnott Challenge book, t-shirt) for the next gathering. From there it lead to Jim (and his able assistant Eddy Choi) authorizing and approving our efforts in organizing the spinoff event from the Joe Sinnott Inking Challenge with the JSIC Spotlight on Jim Lee, our first artist for this program. Besides the program being a huge hit in the realm of education about what inkers do, by selling the various original art blueline pages in our auctions, all signed by Jim and the ink artist, they helped us raise just shy of $6000.  No small feat of support!  I hold nothing but praise for the team at DC.

I have done most of my career work at Marvel Comics going on 25 years (and have been a fan/reader since 1976) so I had been very much on top of what the House of Ideas was producing.  I’d like to salute the team in the collections/special projects department for making a bold effort to bring inker credits back to where they had been before the millennium. I had reached out and tried opening up a dialogue with Marvel and I found what I felt was the right time in the summer 2015.  I even offered the department senior editor Jeff Youngquist our services in any way.  It took Jeff a while to reply but considering that many emails sent to editors sink into a black hole or limbo, never to be responded to, he replied three months later with an apology and an honest “no promises” statement. He’d keep it “in mind” and “look into it”.  It was noncommittal but realistic; I’d cross my fingers but not hold my breath.

Later, while working with the collections office for two columns of the Black Panther by Christopher Priest: The Complete Collection (sharing art/design extras, reformatting an afterword, etc.) I again offered our services to Mark Beazley and Jeph York and Jeph and I had some subsequent back-n-forths regarding identifying who inked what.  I even organized an Inkwell “Credits Council” of comic book original art experts for those questions I couldn’t answer and/or to validate my answers.

Recently I finally picked up an item my retailer at Rubber Chicken Comics had been holding for me, The Captain America 75th Anniversary Magazine. Now I don’t pick up every Marvel magazine or handbook or special project (but I do get a lot of Marvel Masterworks editions and several trade collections) so I’m not quite omniscient about all their output.  But this magazine impressed me.  Ten or more years ago, a project like this would have been very different and not in a way the Inkwells would appreciate.  This had inker credits almost everywhere! If that product was representative of what these departments have been producing then we commend them for giving recognition credit where it was due and, at the same time, showing honor and respect towards the art form of inking and it’s artists. Jeff, Mark and Jeph have shown nothing but professionalism and integrity in their words and actions and we’re completely thrilled at La Casa Inkwell. I will be certain to promote them at my annual live awards ceremony at the end of the season in June that I mc at Heroes Con, much like I did about DC at the last ceremony.

3340283

I see promise with both companies and their respective teams.   May they continue to carry the torch high!

Now if only the Eisners will take us up on our repeated offers to help THEM!

(Thanks to Mike Pascale for his assistance)

07 Feb 2016

inkblots-b-620x2502

12674174_10207200869451684_966411551_n

We now have a  Tumblr account to our line-up of social networks! When the Inkwell Awards started out we used to have accounts with MySpace and ComicSpace and even our own forum, but those venues lost popularity so we changed with the times for maximum exposure. Our Facebook (group page and fan page) and Twitter accounts have expanded and thrived over time and members Stacey Aragon and Sarah Covert later added both a YouTube and Google+ account.  (And this doesn’t count our Comicart Fans Gallery maintained by Damon Owens, entry on Wikipedia, eBay Store, and our subsidiary page on DeviantArt, The Inkers Challenge which is maintained by JL Straw.) While Dorian is still in the early stages of designing it please drop in from time to time as he refines the look of the page.

 

shop-cart-icon-clipart-1.jpgAnother huge development is that our Store is (finally) upgraded to modern levels! For years I dreamt of having shopping carts and being able to calculate shipping and payment for online shopping but there was either never the time or tech-skill capabilities, or both. But now that our book line and inventory of products has expanded committee member and the latest website maintenance supervisor Rhys Evans has been working on this option over the past several weeks and as of a few days ago finally completed it.  Please feel free to check it out and browse down the aisles to see if anything catches your fancy to assist us in fundraising.  Let us know if anything doesn’t work proper or if you have any questions.  All we ask is patience as we’re a bare bones operation, meaning that  I’m the cashier, bagger, stocker, manager, heck, I’m the entire crew working in the store…and I only can devote part-time hours– LOL!  But you will hear from me.

I’ll keep you posted about any further social network or website updates.

 

15 Oct 2015

inkblots-b-620x2502

It’s been mentioned from time to time and images have begun appearing on Facebook but some of you may be asking exactly what is the Sinnott Inking Challenge Spotlight?

It’s an Inkwell Awards spin-off of the popular and successful original Joe Sinnott Inking Challenge that has been an annual event since I introduced it in 2011.  Named and focused on the Inkwell special ambassador and Hall of Fame namesake, Joe Sinnott renders a character in tight pencils and another in loose pencils (breakdowns) and the challenge is for other inkers to interpret his work in ink. This idea has worked on two fronts. First, the artists donate their page, inked over blue lines of the pencils and signed by both Joe and the inker, to the Inkwells and we auction them off on eBay for fundraising. Second, between the event and the subsequent book collection we visually reinforce what the ink artist brings to the table in a ‘before & after’ comparison. The goal meets our mission state about educating what the art form of inking is. The first collection debuted in 2012 and the fifth and latest came out this past June 2015. All are available in our Store (with free signatures by Joe). (more…)

04 Aug 2015

 

inkblots-b-620x2502

RECRUIT, REORGANIZE, REBUILD

On July 6 we reported about the need for Inkwell Awards volunteers and positions sought after an exodus of volunteers.  Season 8 contained several departures, especially in the final 2-3 months prior to the big awards ceremony finale at Heroes Con. Three core committee members stepped down (including the assistant director) and multiple contributors left for reasons that included: simple resignations due to an increased ‘real job’ workload, disappearance, illness, and personal reasons, with a couple of members not departing but needing sabbaticals. So the Help Wanted press release went out this summer and I was happy with the results.  Here is where we stand to date:

(more…)

05 Jul 2015

inkblots-b-620x2502

DSC_0470

I annually discuss the recipients of the Silver Inkwell Awards (formerly the ‘Special Recognition Awards’ before an actual award was named that this year). Sometimes the silver inkwell trophy is given to nomination committee members who’ve served five years as a reward for that hard work. But there weren’t any of those this year. This year it went solely to core committee members who resigned in good standing…and we had three members with this status this season. This is regrettable but it’s life. And this is about celebrating the good they did for our organization.

(more…)

03 Apr 2015

inkblots-b-620x2502

It’s been almost exactly two years since I last ran an Unsung Heroes article (on Larry Dempsey) for my Inkblots column so I’m obviously overdue (former articles were on Michael Netzer & Bob McLeod and Serge LaPointe & PJ Magalhaes).  This time I wanted to give special recognition to our retailer associates who we never want to take for granted.  They have assisted us in two crucial programs, the COMPliments Program and Fundraising. Early on Bob Shaw helped establish our general fundraising system where we not only acquire donations from artists at conventions to auction off on eBay but to purchase at cost the blank cover variant comics that suddenly became the rage at Marvel soon after we started up. We received these from a number of retailers at the time but most-notably Larry Harrison of Harrison’s Comics & Pop Culture, Ernie Pelletier Jr. of Friendly Neighborhood Comics, Jay Pillarella of Rubber Chicken Comics, and Nate Machado from New England Comics.

harrisons

Unknown

 

 

 

 

 

RC_LogoComp-sm

 

NECLogo

 

 

 

 

(more…)

06 Dec 2014

“Legendary Artists Neal Adams and Joe Sinnott Make Comic Book History for the Inkwell Awards”
First Comics News
(December 5, 2014–New Bedford, Massachusetts): For the first time in 44 years, comic book legends Neal Adams and Joe Sinnott have collaborated on a special edition to be auctioned by the non-profit Inkwell Awards (aka “The Inkwells”). The auction will take place in March, 2015.

The two artists contributed their talents to a sketch cover of a Batman #0 comic book. The first and last time they collaborated was on two issues of Thor in 1970.

“We are thrilled beyond belief to have these two living legends work together again on our behalf,” said Bob Almond, Inkwell Awards founder and director. “We originally planned to auction the piece off in December of this year but decided we didn’t want to compete with holiday shopping. By waiting until March, everyone who wants a shot at this piece of history will have time to save for it.”

The piece came about when Inkwell volunteer Joe Goulart approached Adams at the 2014 Connecticut ComiCONN to contribute a donation sketch for the non-profit. Adams then made his own request: He would do so if Inkwell Special Ambassador Joe Sinnott inked it. Sinnott is also the namesake of the charity’s Hall of Fame Award and its annual Inking Challenge event and book collection. Sinnott’s son Mark was contacted and the deal was sealed. Two months later, Joe brought the inked version to the Rhode Island Comic Con for a historic photo with Neal.

The comic book has been professionally graded 9.4 and “slabbed” by the Comic Book Certification Service.
10345772_10205490177523543_3088722359271609709_n